Privacy law in the 21st century: due for an update?
In honor of Data Protection Day (tomorrow, January 28) and its “Think Privacy” theme, let’s turn our attention to a few current efforts to bring legislated privacy requirements into the 21st century. In Europe, privacy watchers are looking to Viviane Reding, the European Commission’s commissioner for information society and media, who has stated publicly that protection rights for personal data are among her top priorities. Now entering her third term in office, Reding has been appointed the commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship for the EC’s 2010 session, and unnamed officials (the European press likes to use those unnamed sources too) purportedly close to Reding have suggested that one area of focus will be a review of the EU’s Data Protection Directive, which among other provisions constrains the collection and use (the broad general term in the EU law is “processing,” which encompasses more than two dozen operations in the official definition) of personal data by EU member countries. The Data Protection Directive was enacted 15 years ago, so it would seem that a least some European commissioners think it might be due for revision, or at least a close look to see if it covers modern information usage.